Soldier Field Evacuation

Nine-minute video from under the stands during the Bears-Ravens game evacuation of the stands. Crazy, crazy day. I will never identify those doing the talking on this video. Enjoy.

The Forecast- Ravens vs Bears

It’s so strange how football works. One week the Bears look like they’re potentially the class of the division with a win in Green Bay, and the next they can’t even score 20 points at home. The Lions wanted to hand the Bears the win, but the Bears wouldn’t take it. Marc Trestman continued to let Jay Cutler play, despite being noticeably hobbled by an ankle (and groin) injury. Trestman also refused to take an easy three points in the first quarter when Michael Bush (in typical horseshit Michael Bush fashion) couldn’t gain a yard on the play. Trestman also didn’t have Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery (who dropped two touchdowns during the game) in at the end on a potential game tying two-point conversion. Cutler’s red zone interception before the second quarter ended didn’t help the Bears’ cause and neither did the offensive line giving up pressure after pressure on Cutler and Josh McCown. The offensive line also generated nothing in the run game; Matt Forte only mustered 1.7 yards per carry. It was an all around brutal game to watch, whether you were a Chicago or Detroit fan. The effort will have to be much better today and throughout the remainder of the season, especially since the Panthers, 49ers and Packers are all strong contenders for the two wild card spots.

The defending Super Bowl Champions are next on the schedule. On that note, the ears should perk up of every player who dons the navy and orange. The Ravens have really had a rough ‘go’ of it this season. Understandably, they had to keep Joe Flacco and so the rest of the roster suffered. They were forced to trade Anquan Boldin for next to nothing. Defensively, they lost Ray Lewis to retirement, Dannell Ellerbe to Miami, and Paul Kruger to shitty ol’ Cleveland. TE Dennis Pitta was lost for the season before it almost began, who has always been Flacco’s favorite target. Flacco isn’t getting any help from his running game, either. Once again, Baltimore’s defense is the only reason that they’re somewhat competitive this year. They are giving up only 3.7 yards per carry, which ranks fifth in the NFL. They also have 32 sacks which ranks third. After a big win for the Ravens last weekend, the Bears have to be ready for a fight, because with a Baltimore win today, they are right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

College Football Recap
There wasn’t too much news today in major college football. Alabama squeaked out a victory at Mississippi State, Florida State put their distractions aside and creamed Syracuse, and Ohio State obliterated a pathetic Illinois team.

College Gameday went to Los Angeles for USC and Stanford, and it didn’t disappoint. Despite being thoroughly outplayed in the second half yardage wise, USC found a way and beat the Cardinal. Ed Orgeron continues to win himself into potentially getting the “interim” title removed.

The game of the day was in Auburn, Alabama. Georgia was losing by 17 to the now 9-1 Tigers in the second half, but the Bulldogs ended up taking the lead with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on a gutsy Aaron Murray touchdown scramble. Unfortunately, Georgia’s defense went for an interception on a desperation throw rather than a sure tackle or pass deflection. Auburn caught the prayer and took it 73 yards for the win. As a college football fan, I was thrilled. This sets up Alabama at Auburn in two weeks in what could force a dramatic shake-up in the BCS if Auburn can find a way to knock off the Crimson Tide.

Weather
The good news? Temperatures will somehow be in the mid-60’s. The bad news? It’s most likely going to be a monsoon, as rain will pass through around 1:00 and 25-35 mph winds are in the forecast throughout the afternoon.

Injury report
Just as fast as Jay Cutler came back from a groin tear, he’s back on the shelf for a few weeks again (ankle). On Wednesday, it was also announced that Charles Tillman (triceps) would miss the rest of the regular season. Shea McClellin (hamstring), Patrick Mannelly (calf), and newly acquired Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) remain out. Martellus Bennett is questionable (ankle), but if I’m a betting man, I think he plays today. The Ravens, meanwhile, seem to be pretty healthy. A few weeks ago, it was announced that G Kelechi Osemele (back) would be out for the remainder of the year. LB Daryl Smith (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), WR Marlon Brown (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (groin), S James Ihedigbo (toe), and CB Lardarius Webb (groin) are all questionable for today’s game. However, I would guess that most, if not all of them, will play.

Did you know?
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have combined for 1,521 yards this season. No other wide receiving duo has more.

NFL Predictions
I’m finally over .500. This weekend, I think the Saints, Broncos, Giants, Raiders, and Patriots all get wins. (21-20 on the year)

Players to Watch
Torrey Smith- Truly, Torrey Smith is the Ravens’ only weapon on the outside. As I mentioned earlier, Dennis Pitta is out for the season and Anquan Boldin now plays for the 49ers. Marlon Brown, Joe Flacco’s only other true wideout, is an undrafted free agent. Smith isn’t a great wide receiver by any means. He didn’t record more than 860 yards or 8 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, but he is on pace for 1,000+ yards this year. Smith might be one of the fastest players in the game. With news breaking this week about Charles Tillman’s season ending injury and the fact that Chicago has been very poor against the pass, Smith has a great chance of going above 80 yards today, something he hasn’t done since October 6.

Ray Rice- Ray Rice has been pretty bad this year. His offensive line isn’t very good to begin with, but Rice has so much talent that can typically hide the flaws of his line. This year, it hasn’t happened that way. He’s averaging an abysmal 2.5 yards per carry and has only found the endzone three times on the ground. It’s gotten so bad that coach John Harbaugh is going to start splitting carries between Rice and his back-up, Bernard Pierce. Unfortunately for Harbaugh, Pierce has been equally as bad this season. Fortunately for Harbaugh, Henry Melton tore up his knee, so the Bears’ run defense is giving up 4.5 yards per carry (fifth worst) and 129 yards per game (fourth worst).

Terrell Suggs- With the Ravens struggles so far, there has been a lot of talk about Terrell Suggs being over the hill, past his prime, and missing the aforesaid Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. Clearly, those same people haven’t watched one Baltimore game so far this season, because Suggs is his typical, game-chaning self. Suggs has 9 sacks this year, which means he’s on pace for his best season ever in the sack column as a professional. The wet field will help the Bears contain Suggs, but Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills have their work cut out for then.

Julius Peppers- It seems like every week I have Julius Peppers on here, but it just shows how important he is to this defense. He’s only made a true impact in two games so far in 2013, and the Bears won both. Last week against a young offensive line, he once again did nothing. The Ravens are tied for fourth worst in the league in sacks given up (30) and eighth worst in quarterback hits given up (53). Peppers has an opportunity to have a solid game today, but I’m not going to get my hopes up, thanks to his unfathomable poor season and the weather.

The Forecast
Take my word for it—I had a great year last two years picking these games; I was 11-5 and 13-3, respectively. Sadly, the Bears injury situation as well as their miserable play that pops up every now and again has really hurt my chances of a third straight decent year. It’s not going to get easier for me again today, because this is another toss-up. The Bears are probably the better team this year, but the Ravens are coming off of a big win in overtime against the AFC North leading Bengals. However, that game was their whole season; they needed a victory or their already-slim chances of a repeat were over. The Bears, meanwhile, finally had a stellar defensive outing but still managed to lose a home game against a divisional foe. Another reason for such uncertainty is the weather. It’s going to be nearly impossible to make a field goal past 35 yards and to reach a rhythm in the passing game. The Bears need a win. With one today, they would advance to 6-4 with games against St. Louis and Minnesota on the horizon, two games where the talent level will heavily favor Chicago. The veterans on this team have to realize that moving to 5-5 is going to put them in a hole that will be too deep to dig themselves out of. Bears 17-14. (5-4 on the year)

-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)

Rooting for Bears to Lose?

No, I don’t seriously mean that, but read on.

What a crazy season it’s been. The Bears rally in the final minutes to win their first two games, then survive a comeback at Pittsburgh to start 3-0. They lose handily to New Orleans, survive another comeback to beat the Giants. They score 41 points and lose to a reeling Redskins team. They beat Green Bay for the first time in six attempts, but come up short in two rallies to be swept by Detroit for the first time in six years.

The Bears stand 5-4 with seven games remaining. Unless the Lions start falling on their own (Detroit owns the first tiebreaker over the Bears), they will win the division for the first time in, well, ever. In order for the Bears to have any shot at the wildcard against Green Bay, Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Carolina, you have to think they have to finish with a 5-2 record at worst.

So why do I say “rooting for the Bears to lose” this week, which I’m really not? The best two games for the Bears to lose the rest of the season are against Baltimore and Cleveland, their remaining AFC opponents. Obviously, finishing 7-0 is preferred. But unlikely even for the most optimistic fans to believe.

It has been interesting. But not as interesting as the 2013 off-season will be, with over 30 players not under contract.

The Forecast- Lions vs Bears

Sometimes, I love being wrong. This is one of those cases. The Bears went up to Lambeau Field and beat the Packers in a game between two back-up quarterbacks. Luckily, Josh McCown actually deserves to pick up a check every week while Seneca Wallace does not. McCown managed the game perfectly, and my lone Bears player to watch, Matt Forte, dominated on the ground yet again against a stellar Packers’ run defense. I won’t go as far as saying that if Shea McClellin does nothing else in his career as a Chicago Bear, at least he gave the Bears a shot at winning the NFC North this season, but it could be huge going forward. It may even give McClellin some confidence in the coming weeks. With news that Aaron Rodgers is out for at least three weeks with a broken collarbone, this divisional race may come down to the Bears and Lions.

Before I get to the Lions, I want to get something off of my chest. THE BEARS DID NOT GET “LUCKY” ON MONDAY NIGHT.
–The Bears hurt Aaron Rodgers. It wasn’t like he sprained his ankle a week ago, or he was running on Monday and somehow came up limping. McClellin broke his stupid collarbone. Period.
–The Bears were without their quarterback (Cutler), an All-Pro outside linebacker (Briggs), and one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the NFL (Melton). Charles Tillman also was not 100 percent. Had the Packers one, I bet there wouldn’t be any “lucky” discussions.
–Does Rodgers play defense?

Let’s move on now. Speaking of the Lions, those hooligans are in town today. The Lions are coming off of a big come from behind win against the Cowboys and then a bye week, and their offense is very dangerous. Detroit’s offensive line is giving the ever-pudgy Matthew Stafford just enough time to find Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Kris Durham, and as usual, the Lions defensive line continues to pressure the quarterback. Ndamukong Suh’s stats don’t show it, but he has been flat out dominant this year, and Nick Fairley is that much better with teams giving Suh the majority of their focus. Given that their tackles have been so good, no one can say the same about their ends. Teams have been running to the edges and averaging more than 5 yards per carry. Today is going to be a battle on the Lakefront, and after Chicago’s big win in Green Bay, this has the potential to be the game of the week across the whole NFL.

College Football Recap
Going back to Thursday, there were three great college football games. Baylor hosted Oklahoma, Oregon traveled down to Stanford, and LSU made the short flight to Tuscaloosa. In a way, all of the games were disappointing. Baylor crushed the Sooners, and the Cardinal dominated Oregon for three quarters. In the grand finale, Alabama obliterated LSU and seems like the clear favorite to win the national championship.

Johnny Manziel had another unreal performance. He continues to impress everyone, and with Oregon’s loss and FSU’s blowout, it seems like he may be inching toward a second straight Heisman trophy.

Weather
It should be a perfect November day for football. Temperatures will stay in the 40’s and the skies will be totally clear. Wind may be a small factor.

Injury report
Chris Mortensen reported on Monday that Jay Cutler (groin) would likely start today, and he was right. Cutler is back. The aforementioned Shea McClellin, however, tweaked his hamstring in practice on Wednesday and is doubtful. Joe Anderson (chest/groin) was put on injured reserve during the week, so he is done for the remainder of the year. Patrick Mannelly will miss today’s game (calf), and that is very rare for him. On the other side of the field, WR Nate Burleson remains out (arm) for the Lions. DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle), Starting RT Corey Hilliard (knee) and CB Bill Bentley (knee) are all doubtful. RB Reggie Bush (knee), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), and S Louis Delmas (knee) are probable.

Did you know?
The Bears’ offensive line has only committed one false start this year. The Giants, Colts, and Dolphins are tied for second with four.

NFL Predictions
We’re in the home stretch. I’d like to finish above .500 for the year. To turn it around, give me the Broncos in a blowout against the Charges, 49ers to crush the Panthers, Saints to knock off the Cowboys, and for two upsets, the Ravens over the Bengals and the Falcons to top the Seahawks. (18-18 on the year)

Players to Watch
Calvin Johnson- Once again, Calvin Johnson is having a monster season. He has 821 yards on just 47 receptions, which comes out to 17.5 yards per catch. He has 7 touchdowns, too. In the last meeting with Detroit, the Bears held him to only 44 yards on 4 receptions. It would be absolutely huge to hold Johnson to that again, because anytime you can take a team’s best player out the game it greatly benefits your chances of winning, obviously. It won’t be easy and I’m not counting on it (thanks a lot, Chris Conte).

Reggie Bush- Everyone now knows that the Bears’ run defense is awful, so I expect Reggie Bush to get a lot of touches today, on the ground and through the air. It won’t be as easy for Bush this time on the Soldier Field sod, as it always seems to negate some speed and cutting ability for the shiftier players in football. Bush has only gone for more than 92 yards once this year, and that was against the Bears. Bush and Johnson are the Lions two most explosive players, and so with just some containment, Detroit’s offense could struggle.

Julius Peppers- Maybe it’s a night game thing. In Pittsburgh, Julius Peppers had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and in Green Bay, he had an interception and a sack. If it is, he will probably struggle today, since it is a noon start. However, his only other sack this year came against Detroit. In fact, he has 12 sacks and 6 forced fumbles in 11 career games against the Lions. As I said, Shea McClellin won’t play today, but even if he had, I wasn’t going to predict that he would have another great game. The Bears need Peppers today to slow down Detroit’s well-oiled offensive machine. A sack or two and a solid game in run defense, where the Bears really struggled the last time these two teams met, will do the trick. Keep in mind that Detroit’s offensive line has only given up 10 sacks this year, and that is the best in football.

The Forecast
This is yet another game that can go either way. The Lions got the best of the Bears back in September, but the Bears got crushed in the turnover battle and they only lost by 8. Detroit is a solid team this year. Proof of that is the fact that they haven’t Detroit Lion’d a game…yet. Ndamukong Suh hasn’t tried to commit homicide so far and Jim Schwartz hasn’t pissed down his leg up to now. For Chicago, it sure would be nice to win this one with three straight winnable contests ahead. The good feelings from the win in Green Bay with the addition of the excitement of Cutler’s return and a little homefield advantage mixed in is the difference today. Bears 33-30. (5-3 on the year)

-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)

Friday 5: Lions at Bears 2013

I admit it. I proclaimed it. I had totally, completely lost faith in the Bears beating the Green Bay Packers on November 4th. I kept faith in 2008, 2009, in the 2010 NFC Championship, in portions of the 2011 and 2012 season. Not so much the late games in those years. But this year I had to completely write off their chances. And the Bears finally beat the Packers for only the second time in five years. And I loved it. The MVP’s for the Bears were abundant: Marc Trestman for the game he called including the gutsy fourth-down attempt, the offensive line, Josh McCown‘s brilliant play, Matt Forte‘s execution, Shea McClellin, Julius Peppers. Who have I missed?

Speaking of McClellin, he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three-sack performance. Way to come out of the shell for which he’s been criticized all at once. I don’t have the time to watch the “all-22″ coaches’ film, but I have heard that once again Julius Peppers laid it on the line in the background to sacrifice for the other linemen.

Certainly, Aaron Rodgers‘ first significant injury in his brilliant career as a starter was the difference in the game. I hate to see a player get injured, and Rodgers is a phenomenal player and seemingly a good guy. But the Bears have deserved a break to come their way in the Bears-Packers series for a long, long time. Let me explain. Of course the Packer organization deserves the credit for drafting and developing great players over the last 20 years. But there is no way anyone could claim they haven’t had some damn good fortune as well. In 1992 the Atlanta Falcons gave away Brett Favre. Yes, they got a first-round pick back, but don’t you think they’d re-do that trade in a heartbeat if they could? So Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback and plays without missing a game for Green Bay for 16 seasons. In 2005, Aaron Rodgers drops in the draft all the way to the 24th pick. So the Packers are lucky as hell that 23 other teams passed on another Hall of Fame quarterback (including the Bears, who took Cedric Benson 20 picks before). Now Rodgers as well has been more durable than 99% of quarterbacks, which is part skill and conditioning but a large part good fortune as well. The Packers have had extremely good luck, and it’s about time the Bears received a little.

Jay Cutler is playing Sunday, just one game after a four-game injury diagnosis. Anyone else think he and the Bears might be better off starting Josh McCown for one more game?

Prediction anyone?

The Forecast- Bears vs Packers

I desperately wanted to pick the Redskins in my last forecast. Honestly, I went back and forth with myself all week, but I went with the Bears. Clearly, I underestimated how bad the Bears’ defense really is. They were solid in the first half, but in the end, Josh McCown got them 31 points and they still lost. Had you told me when Jay Cutler went down with an injury that McCown would put up that many points, I would have said that the Bears would be 5-2 right now. Injuries have really hurt this team, literally and figuratively, but Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin are just unbelievably horrible right now. This leaves the secondary, which isn’t any good to begin with either, in a position where they have to cover opposing players for 5-8 seconds. The worst part of watching the game against Washington was knowing that had Cutler taken that sack and hopped back up normally like he usually does, they probably still would have lost, thanks to the defense.

Green Bay comes into this game as the class of the NFC North (yes, the class of the NFC North. Don’t start with Detroit, because those screwballs will find a way to mess it up like usual). Like in years past, the Packers are playing with a lot of injuries yet continue to put up points and knock around the opposing quarterback. An argument can be made that Aaron Rodgers is the second best quarterback in football right now. They now have a running game as well, making their offense that much better. They plug in weapons all over the field and they all make an impact. I watch these guys each and every week and get filled with rage/envy with how quickly and effectively they grow players. They may be the best organization in the sport. Tonight, the Bears face a huge challenge that, on paper, almost looks improbable.

College Football Recap
Florida State continues to roll. Even when the Heisman front runner only throws one touchdown, they still manage to beat the #7 overall team in the country by 27 points.

I think the Big-10 is boring and stupid, but Michigan State might be the best team in the country that nobody knows about. Their #1 overall defense in the country showed up once again yesterday. In case nobody heard, Michigan had -48 (yes, negative forty-eight) rushing yards against that defense. The Spartans even cut Devin Gardner’s day short, as they knocked him out of the game due to injury in the fourth quarter. It would be interesting to see Michigan State play Ohio State in the Big-10 Championship if both teams continue to win.

Two losses won’t help, but Johnny Manziel should get a lot of Heisman votes. He might be having a better season this year than the Heisman-winning season he had last year. Manziel and the rest of his team destroyed UTEP yesterday, and Manziel accounted for 340+ yards and 6 touchdowns. If Manziel keeps that up, he’s going to be invited to New York once again.

Weather
Typically, wind isn’t a factor in Green Bay, but it will be tonight with projected 10-15 mph gusts during the game. The temperatures should dip into the mid-40’s as well and there is a slight chance of showers.

Injury report
The best news of the past 23 days for the Bears is that Jay Cutler’s injury is now looking like it is going to be a 2-3 week injury and so he will be back for the Lions or Ravens contest. However, the news didn’t get any better with Lance Briggs (shoulder), who is out for at least four weeks with a fracture. Charles Tillman (knee) is still not 100 percent but will give it a go tonight, as will Blake Costanzo (knee) and Major Wright (knee). Joe Anderson is questionable (chest). For the Packers, LB Clay Matthews (thumb) and WR Randall Cobb (knee) are both out as they are each still rehabbing their injuries. TE Jermichael Finley took a nasty hit on October 20 against Cleveland and remains severely injured (neck). I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t play again this season. WR James Jones (knee) is questionable but should play while OLB Nick Perry (foot) is doubtful. LB Brad Jones (hamstring), CB Sam Shields (toes), and TE Ryan Taylor (knee) will play.

Did you know?
The Bears have given up 206 points through seven games. That is a new franchise record.

NFL Predictions
N/A. (18-18 on the year)

Players to Watch
Eddie Lacy- No running back in football had a better October than Eddie Lacy. Lacy is an outstanding rookie out of Alabama, who I’m sure many will remember as the guy who run over and around Manti Te’o and his overrated Notre Dame defense repeatedly in January. Lacy somehow fell in the draft, and of course he has turned into a nice weapon for Green Bay. Lacy is a power back, but he has shiftiness and underrated speed to boot. Anytime you can take the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers with a running game, he becomes that much more dangerous, and judging from the last four weeks, Rodgers is just that. Look for Lacy to get the ball at least 25 times tonight. If the Bears horseshit defense can find a way to limit his production, they have a chance tonight.

A.J. Hawk- A.J. Hawk has always been an overrated linebacker. Whenever a player consistently get handed a starting job in the league, the general public gets the idea that the certain player is having a nice career. To this point, Hawk has not been a good player for the Packers since he was drafted, but this year, he’s been exceptional. He needs just a half of a sack to match his season high. He is making plays all over the field. For the first time in Hawk’s career, the Bears have to game plan for him and ensure that he doesn’t take the game over like he has done a few times this year already.

Matt Forte- Matt Forte is proving once again that he is one of the best players in the NFL. Last week, Forte went over 100 total yards in a game for the fifth time this season already. He topped his stellar individual game off with three touchdowns as well. The Packers are fourth in football in rushing defense, giving up only about 84 yards on the ground each week. Forte has to find a way to get close to that number and have a few impactful catches, because I don’t trust Josh McCown to play another game like he did in Washington, despite the Pack being 20th in pass defense.

The Forecast
The Packers have a guy named Micah Hyde who ran back a punt last week in Minnesota. Jamari Lattimore is a third year linebacker who is playing extremely well. Davon House is a cornerback who is having an unheralded season. Green Bay just finds these guys who all perform even in the most desperate of times. When another team does this, it seems like a miracle but for Green Bay, it’s just more of the same. Of the 53 players on the roster, only 3 have played with another team in their career. That is how you draft and pick up undrafted free agents, something Phil Emery and every general manager strives for. Unfortunately for Chicago, the Packers are the league’s best when it comes to it. At one time, Green Bay’s three biggest weaknesses was the kicking game, running game, and the offensive line, but all of them are now strengths. It’s hard to see the Bears actually winning this game, despite Aaron Rodgers’ shockingly bad career record on Monday Night Football. In primetime in Wisconsin with Josh McCown and a bad defense with two rookie linebackers, I’m taking the Pack. I wouldn’t be surprised though if this game is closer. Packers 37-23. (5-2 on the year)

-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)

Curse of the Honey Bears

The Honey BearsI don’t truly believe in curses, even as a Cubs and Bears fan. And I don’t remember anyone associated with the Honey Bears saying anything about the team not going back to the Super Bowl after their contract wasn’t renewed for 1986.

I enjoyed watching the Honey Bears immensely when I was a little kid going to Bears games with my Dad. I thought they were a cool part of the package of being a Bears fan. But for whatever reason, “ownership” of the Bears will only say that they don’t think cheerleaders are a proper part of football. Right after the announcement in 1985, the team officially answered the question of “why” with a question. “Have cheerleaders become passe?” 30 years later, I’d say they haven’t.

What do you think?

Top 10 NFL Curses Appearance

I most certainly will have egg on my face if my interview didn’t make the cut, but here goes nothing. In March 2013 I was interviewed for NFL Network’s Top 10 series on several Bears-related subjects. If my interviews don’t end up landing on the cutting room floor, this will probably be the pinnacle of my broadcast opportunities for my lifetime. It was a great experience and I’m super thankful to the network for asking me to participate. I was interviewed by Bob Angelo, a great guy and a legend at NFL Films.

Saturday night November 2nd at 8 p.m. Central on NFL Network, the first new episode that should feature my comments is set to air: “Top Ten NFL Curses.” There will be some very fun topics, including one involving the Bears. I’m thinking it will probably be featured very early in the episode.

I hope to end up making the cut on several more episodes that haven’t yet aired. If I make any of them, it most certainly should be this episode. I talked to Bob and his staff for 90 minutes, which he said hopefully will get around 50 seconds of comments used in bursts.

Enjoy the show! Just after it airs, I’ll post something new on the Chicago Bears Blog and BearsHistory.com if anyone wants to weigh in on the curse involving the Chicago Bears.

Bears at Packers 2013

A few quick thoughts on the upcoming Monday Night Football game at Green Bay.

- It is well known that the Bears continue to run the same defense as they did under Lovie Smith for eight seasons. It’s “bend but don’t break,” try to force turnovers while forcing the opposition to get yardage a little at a time, and to not allow long plays. This defensive system MUST have a strong pass rush from the four down linemen. No pass rush from the four down linemen, and it’s FAIL. No pass rush from four down linemen plus Aaron Rodgers, and I’m sorry to say the Bears could be toast quickly on Monday. They currently rank 27th of 32 teams defensively.

- Sorry to once again bring up the miserable stats vs. Green Bay, but I have to. Mike Ditka had a 15-5 record against the Packers in 10 seasons. Since Michael McCaskey fired Ditka, the Bears have lost 30 of 41 games against Green Bay (including the 2010 NFC Championship game at home). I’d love to see the Bears pull off a shocking upset Monday, proving that they still have a chance to win in 2013 despite all their injuries. I’ve convinced myself that the Bears would finally do it many times over the last 41 games, and have usually been wrong. I’m not even trying to convince myself anymore.

- Speaking of the injuries, in addition to Kyle Long and Jordan Mills on offense, the Bears are now forced to start rookies Khaseem Greene and Jon Bostic at linebacker for the foreseeable future. Not to mention a heavy dose of young, unproven players on the defensive line, including Zach Minter, Landon Cohen and David Bass. With Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers have brushed off significant injuries at receiver to not miss a beat. It would be nice to see the Bears shock by improving on defense with the injuries, but I’m not counting on it.

- I like reading Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, so no sleight here. I was surprised he wrote this, though. Last week, before the Bears’ ugly loss at Washington, in his 32-team rankings Biggs wrote of Green Bay: “After the 1-2 start, who would have thought they would be atop the NFC North?” I DID. It always happens.

- The 3-0 start this season may have had myself and other Bears fans dreaming of one more push for the Super Bowl before the window closes on this group. Should the Bears fall to 4-4 after a loss at Green Bay, then lose to Detroit at home, tell me how there is any hope left in this season with a 4-5 start? They would have to play flawless football, avoid further injuries (doubtful) and have great fortune thrown in to finish no worse than 6-1 to have any hope. Then next year, remember there is no choice but a rebuild in order. 30 players have contracts expiring. This team needs playmakers on the defensive line and secondary. It will be interesting. Hopefully not depressing though.

Turning Point 2013

I entered the 2013 Chicago Bears season as usual. Hoping for the best but with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many experts predicted that the team would finish around 7-9 or 8-8. Most predicted they would lose to the juggernaut Cincinnati Bengals at home in the opener. Personally I thought they would win the opener, and that they would finish this season better than 7-9 or 8-8.

How could they not finish better than 7-9 or 8-8? They were 10-6 in 2012. Their offensive line is greatly improved with the addition of a free agent, a Pro Bowl free agent and two rookies. They returned most of their defense and are using the same system that had been successful in the past. They hired a new coaching staff that understands offense better than any staff since Mike Ditka’s. They started 3-0, and true excitement was back for those brief few weeks.

Then, the following intervened:

- It’s immediately evident that the pass rush from the defensive linemen has dropped off from 2012.
- Peanut Tillman is not consistently healthy.
- As the team is wrapping up the third win in a row to begin the season, their Pro Bowl three-technique defensive tackle (Henry Melton) is lost for the season.
- Melton’s replacement, Nick Collins, for whom everyone had high hopes, is lost for the season.
- As the Bears lose three of four games following the 3-0 start, they lose starting quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive captain Lance Briggs for probably what will be longer than six weeks.

After this week’s bye, the Bears face the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field on Monday night. What looked to be a game that may determine the leader of the division instead is a game that may determine the Bears’ ultimate fate this year. Beat the Packers and this battered team may have a chance. Lose, and the 4-4 Bears may have to start looking to 2014.

Last Sunday at Washington, the Bears played a Redskins team they should have beaten. Instead it turned into the first game in Chicago Bears History in which they scored 40 points and lost (45-41). More on this as the season progresses, but this game reminded me of many from the 1989 Chicago Bears season. That year their offense was scoring points capably, but it seemed in every game there was no hope that the defense could hold the lead.